The antitrust push directed at Facebook hit a major hurdle Monday when a federal court dismissed the antitrust lawsuits that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and 48 states had filed against the technology giant.
The layoff is a major win for Facebook, which – along with Amazon, Apple and Google – has been in the face of growing scrutiny over whether to engage in monopolistic behavior to stifle their competition. It is also a great return for the growing bipartisan political movement in the United States to curb the power of Big Tech. And he points out that the road ahead for antitrust enforcement against these companies may require lawmakers to review existing U.S. antitrust law, which had its last major overhaul in the early 1900s – well before of the Internet age.
The FTC’s lawsuit against Facebook claimed that Facebook was engaging in monopolistic behavior against its competitors, but on Monday the judge’s ruling said the FTC’s argument was not clear enough.
“The FTC has failed to invoke enough facts to plausibly establish a necessary element of all its Section 2 claims – that is, that Facebook has the monopoly power in the marketplace,” it reads. a part of the filing by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The presentation criticizes the FTC’s complaint against Facebook for not containing “nothing on that point except the bare allegation” that the company has a dominant market share in the “personal social networking” industry.
“It’s almost as if the agency [the FTC] expects the Court to take only a year to the conventional wisdom that Facebook is a monopolist, ”says another part of the presentation.
The court also rejected a parallel complaint to the FTC that was filed by 48 state attorneys general in December. In its dismissal of the states ’complaint, the judge ruled that the states had taken too long to contest the purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp from Facebook, which were acquired in 2012 and 2014 respectively.
Immediately following the court’s decisions, Facebook’s actions it increased by more than 4 per cent.
“We are pleased that today’s decisions recognize the shortcomings of the government’s complaints filed against Facebook,” a spokesman for the Facebook company wrote in a statement. “We work hard enough every day to gain people’s time and attention and we will continue to provide excellent products for the people and businesses that use our services.”
An FTC spokesman shared the following statement with Recode in response to the complaint that was dismissed:
“The FTC is carefully reviewing the opinion that currency is the best option ahead.”
Facebook may be clear for now with the FTC, but the biggest antitrust case against the company is far from over
Despite the court’s dismissal, the FTC’s case against Facebook is not yet completely closed.
For one, the court allowed the FTC to file a more detailed modified complaint against Facebook in 30 days, which it would review.
And more broadly, the FTC and its customers newly appointed chair, Lina Khan, which is known for its Big Tech scrutiny, may pursue other methods to limit the power of these giants. Beyond this existing case, the FTC could directly file a new case against Facebook in its own administration without having to involve the federal judicial system. But as we’ve seen in the past, too registration establishments between the FTC and Facebook didn’t have much of an impact on how the company does business.
Some powerful politicians have seen today’s decisions as a call to Congress to update old antitrust laws so they can apply to modern technology companies.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of legislators led by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) published five antitrust projects aimed at limiting the economic power of major technology companies. These bills included several that would update the laws around antitrust to more specifically target technology companies.
Shortly after news of the FTC’s complaint filing against Facebook, Rep. Buck tweeted that the FTC’s licensing complaint was a reason why antitrust laws needed updating.
Today’s development in the FTC case against Facebook shows that antitrust reform is urgently needed. Congress needs to provide additional tools and resources to our antitrust enforcement agencies to go after Big Tech companies engaged in anti-competitive conduct. https://t.co/AGvSacj8kb
– Rep. Ken Buck (@RepKenBuck) June 28, 2021
“This intensifies the demand for legislative reform without a doubt,” said Bill Kovacic, former president of the FTC under the presidency of George W. Bush. “It simply came to our notice then [antitrust law] reform that “This is what you get by going to court” ”
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), who is a vocal Republican critic of major technology companies, he also tweeted his disappointment with today’s result.
So while decisions can offer temporary help to Facebook, it’s only for the moment. Bigger challenges are ahead – and the court’s opinions today may encourage lawmakers to take a new approach to Big Tech’s antitrust application.